Sound Bytes : Bolder, @c, Ø and Donato Dozzy & Nuel

Hostile Environment
Editions Mego
There are only six tracks on this debut LP from Bolder, a two-member collective consisting of Martin Maischein and Peter Votava. This is a dark, digitally corrosive, and extremely atmospheric exploration of a world “where organic rhythms provide the path among a swarm of foreboding electronics.” At first listen I almost slotted Hostile Environment to be a Raster-Noton release, with its sharp electro percussive stabs, deep-rumbling bass, and surgically precise patterns; but it is thanks to Peter Rehberg’s Editions Mego label that I owe my gratitude for yet another introduction to an artist on the scene. In the past years I’ve been seriously gravitating towards the shadowy spectrum of sound, be it dark ambient, power electronics, or noir-fi. Bolder delivers elements of dun, dusk, and drab to the sterile lab lined with industrial instruments in sanitary form. Of course, music like this doesn’t simply erupt out of nothing – it slowly marinades on the back-burner of explored genres of the past: Maischein brings to the table his beatwork experience from the Heinrich At Hart project, recorded for Position Chrome label back in late 90s; while Votava has released under his Pure moniker throughout the past decade for imprints such as Staalplaat, Crónica and Praxis [he put together that No End Of Vinyl compilation with Miguel Carvalhais]. Recommended for fans of Cindytalk, Lucy and Prurient.

Besides a handful of abstract and experimental musicians, Portugal based Crónica media label is a home to its founders and one of the most interesting acts, @c (pronounced “at-c”). Originally a trio, @c formed in 2000, and is currently made up of Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela. Their fourteenth (by my count) release is actually a soundtrack to a play, titled OVO, developed by the Teatro de Marionetas do Porto (a string puppet theater) in late 2011. I find it difficult to actually imagine the visual component of this performance, since the six pieces on the album, consecutively titled “98” through “103” feature some of the most abstract and complex compositions I have heard to date. Although the music is incredibly theoretical, it is not nevertheless that hard to digest. There are components of noise, elaborate digital manipulation, and multiple conceptual layers that at first seem to be nearly chaotic, yet the mind stays interested and focused, determined to solve the puzzle presented by @c within. The sound twists, warps, and contorts, creating a tangle of obscure themes, as if the puppets themselves are perplexed at the mangled strings attached at their members. Indeed, the published score is not a direct copy of the aural component of play, but rather a reworked portion of the soundtrack, tailored to be detached from the original context.

Now on to Ø (as I pronounce it like the letter ‘o’ as in ‘bird’ in English), or rather Berlin-based Mika Vainio, who was, of course, none other than one half of the influential Finnish Pan Sonic duo (along with Ilpo Väisänen), spinning off in the late 90s a rather rich solo career. It seems that this particular moniker is reserved for releases on Vainio’s own Sähkö Recordings (co-founded with Tommi Grönlund), while his real name graces labels such as Pan, Touch, Raster-Noton, Editions Mego and Blast First Petite. Konstellaatio is a very minimal, experimental, yet accessible album [there’s also a big chance that this type of music has really grown on me throughout the years]. The theme is slow evolving, quiet exploration of expansive sound, featuring some familiar digital Pan Sonic percussive elements. The frequency range is immense, and as spacey pads glide towards immeasurable universe, so do the sub-bass drops plunge into its depths. One of the tracks, “Kesäyön Haltijat” begins with four seconds of incredibly high pitch sound [I even ripped the headphones off my head the first time], before it treads into a dark and suspenseful territory of sparse rhythms and scattered synths, as if my ears tune into a colossal and infinite space, where the sound rebounds in void. Composing delicate sculptures and fast engineering feats, Vainio reassures all his loyal followers once more, why this particular space is undoubtedly his. Highly recommended for discerning ears. Make sure to listen on your best sound system! Oh, and there is a new Pan Sonic album, titled Oksastus out on Kvitnu!

Donato Dozzy & Nuel
The Aquaplano Sessions
Spectrum Spools
The very first track on The Aquaplano Sessions begins with a saw-tooth growl which drops with a kick coming in on a second bar (where the snare should be), and I’m immediately thrown off, unable to readjust the clock in my head in sync with the rhythm. This restored collaboration between Donato Dozzy and Nuel is brought to us courtesy of Spectrum Spools imprint, an offshoot of Editions Mego created by John Elliott and Peter Rehberg to release limited edition vinyl from “the finest in forward thinking modern music.” The narcotic rhythms of minimal techno and deep atmospheric ambiance swirls in patterns of slowly progressing pieces, consecutively numbered “Aqua 1” through “Aqua 8”. The tracks indeed emerged from the reclusive Aquaplano records, an San Felice Circeo (Italy) based studio, originally composed back in 2007-2008. “The influences these Italians were drawing on were rather different, returning to tribal rhythms and ambient textures to sketch out a much more heady, psychedelic form of techno. The results were a perfect balance of hypnotic beats and swirling atmosphere geared for a broken-in dancefloor or the hazy afterhours.” Following this soporific transit I got a bit thrown off by the artist names. You see, a group known by the name Voices From The Lake is composed of Donato Scaramuzzi (that’s the very same Donato Dozzy) and Giuseppe Tillieci (who’s also known as Neel). The latter is different than Nuel, who’s real name is actually Manuel Fogliata. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this welcome flashback!

Words by HC